07 May 2010

Do you have a Boss From Hell? Is Devil Wears Prada your reality?

The Boss From Hell

Have you ever endured the Boss from Hell?

Some of us can relate to Anne Hathaway's character in 'The Devil wears Prada' - the film mirrors real-life bosses from hell, as it's supposed to be based on a true story.

Executive development coach, Dr Zaffran believes that tyrannical fire-breathing bosses belong in films - or the Victorian era.

The bitchy boss seems to be getting somewhat of a revival. I’m sure that many people watching the film cringe at the memory of bosses past and present, and it’s true that some successful business people (like Miranda in the film, said to be based on Anna Wintour, Vogue Editor-in-Chief) seem to suffer from a lack of work life balance, which can play havoc with their communication skills to say the least.

We can try to understand why people are the way they are, we really need to have the confidence to draw the line…

Media cruelty

Nastiness seems to be de-rigueur in the media right now - game show judges seem to be revelling in the whole ‘Mr nasty’ angle with the likes of X- Factor judge Simon Cowell, hot-headed chef Gordon Ramsay in Hells Kitchen, and Strictly Come Dancing judge Craig Revell-Horwood.

We used to cringe at the harsh feedback that contestants were meted out, shocked at the judges lack of tact – but now we find ourselves secretly siding with the nasty remarks…well, it’s all entertaining stuff…but is it just harmless fun or are we fuelling a nation of meanies?


Recent newsworthy court cases prove that bullying behaviour isn’t just a figment of a scriptwriter’s imagination – and in fact harassment is no stranger to the workplace…more and more employees have been suing mean bosses for psychological bullying.

I think it’s about time that we identified some boundaries - just because someone is your senior in the work place, it doesn’t give them the right to treat you in way that would be unacceptable out of work – and this needs to be understood fully by staff and management. Proactive solutions like workplace bullying policies and staff awareness campaigns must be put in place to ensure that boss from hell behaviour is not accepted as the norm. It doesn’t just affect the victims – it affects everyone in an office.

Stifling staff potential

The potential of happy, productive staff is truly immense, something I’ve seen through working with companies from the NHS to new businesses, to large corporates. The potential of an effective boss is even greater.

Tyrannical managers stifle their team’s potential, completely unintentionally. Perhaps the manager feels the need to micro manage everything themselves, creating a time management crisis that manifests as an aggressive, cold or even cruel management style, which gets aggravated by de-motivated staff missing their targets, throwing sickies and finding new jobs.

We spend so much of our waking time at work and so we owe it to ourselves to do what we can to make this a positive experience – if the good days are outweighed by the bad days, life’s too short!!

If the Devil wears Prada in your office it’s most definitely time to take stock.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting my article. I must have written this a few years ago and it received wide press around the world in news paper and magazines. It remains relevant even today, especially in hard and uncertain financial times the people whom make up the fabric of our organisations can often be placed under great strain.